I admit, every time I've done a Whole30 before this, I never counted off the days or stayed accountable the way I've done it this time. Maybe it's the fact that this time I have a stronger "why," or that I have more accountability buddies-- especially those who actually live with me, or that I decided to publicly share my journey on a blog-- I am sure it's the combination of all the factors. But right now, why I'm staying on track really doesn't matter to me as much as the simple fact that I am staying on track, and feeling pretty damn good.
Although the challenge of my birthday had come and gone, I wasn't in the clear, since days 13-15 fell on a weekend--a long weekend at that--and there were still plenty of birthdays (not just mine) to celebrate... meaning more cakes, lots of them.
Day 13 was a busy day, but not very exciting to most. We slept in, made brunch, I and spent the day entire day in the house doing schoolwork-- although I wanted to be doing any thing else, catching up on work was necessary. It actually was one of those days where I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing, that I forget to eat. Around 4pm, I desperately opened the fridge hoping to find some sort of leftovers to reheat, but we had cleared out everything. Luckily, my boyfriend and I each had one Kettlebell Kitchen meal left from the week, which was perfect-- no cooking or cleaning involved. Although it was mine and Edwin's anniversary, we decided to cook dinner home instead of going out, since that was what we had done the previous two nights. Dinner turned out to be better than what I would have ordered anyway-- thanks to my boyfriend, the chef. We then saw a movie, snack-free (yes, it's possible!)
Day 13 meals (above):
Breakfast: An overeasy egg, uncured bacon, pan-fried yucca with smoked paprika, spicy okra, berries, sauteed red onions, and decaf coffee with 1t butter (made with my brand new French press!
Lunch: Kettlebell Kitchen Ginger Scallion Chicken, seltzer
Dinner: A burger wrapped in lettuce, topped with sauteed onions and homemade "ketchup," Brussels sprouts cooked with uncured bacon, baked sweet potato, and a homemade dill pickle
My family loves burgers-- they are a go-to meal in my house. And while we have all given up the traditional "bun," and we are okay with that, but I completely forgot that we wouldn't be able to have ketchup-- even the one we buy without HFCS still has sugar in it. So I looked up a last-minute ketchup recipe before dinner, and tried my best to duplicate it with what we had in the house. (I settled on a blend between this one and this one). It actually turned out pretty good-- however, it didn't really taste like traditional ketchup to me--but still delicious on a burger!
Day 14 was another challenging day. We woke up to horrible weather, which made our usual Sunday gym rendezvous impossible. So we settled on working out at home, which just isn't the same. For the remainder of the day, we had plans to spend the day watching football with family and friends, so we went food shopping before so that we were prepared. A day of football means tons of food-- pizza, wings, chips, beer-- and we had a few things to celebrate, so 2 more cakes to resist! I knew I would feel tempted-- to have a beer, to mindlessly snack-- so I made sure I ate enough so that I didn't feel hungry and need to snack. We bought an organic rotisserie chicken (it felt almost impossible to find one without sugar, but we did!), a package of organic salad greens, and compliant plantain chips, sweet potato chips, and salsa.
Day 14 meals (below):
Breakfast: An overeasy egg, pan-fried yucca, and leftover Brussels sprouts with bacon
Lunch (not pictured): Routisserie chicken over salad with green olives, apple cider vinegar, and oregano, plantain chips
Snack: Sweet potato chips with salsa
Dinner: Roast pork, sauerkraut, steamed green beans, and a baked potato with butter and salt
Day 15- the halfway point! I went to sleep late the night before, so I woke up to go to the gym and my body did not want to move-- but I am happy I did. Although my legs were pretty sore, I felt really good during my workout. A few months ago, I would feel great for the first 3-5 minutes of my workout and then crash. But lately, I've been finding I don't burn out mid workout, and I know it's not just because of the food I've been eating, but how my body is responding to the food-- and how, hopefully, my body is functioning more efficiently because it's being fueled properly-- minus all the extra crap that causes inflammation and bogs down my system.
Day 15 also fell on another birthday-- my cousin, Jeff's-- who is also doing the Whole30 with us. So four of us Whole30ers went out to brunch at Art Cafe, where we knew we could get a meal that wasn't only compliant, but delicious-- shakshuka (eggs baked in a spiced tomato sauce) with eggplant-- minus the usual feta cheese and pita that accompanies the dish. And yes, I brought my own coconut oil and butter to make coffee (still decaf for me)!
The rest of the day was spent, again, around the house-- I doing schoolwork and folding laundry, while Edwin cooked and did food prep and juggled the laundry. Exciting, I know. But again, necessary! Again, we used Practical Paleo to get some new recipes, and Edwin made an amazing mango jalapeno sauce from The Performance Paleo Cookbook.
Day 15 meals (above):
Pre workout (not pictured): 1 egg, pan-fried yucca, 1/2 Beef Epic Bar
Brunch: At Art Cafe- Decaf French press coffee with 1t butter, 1t coconut oil, side salad (not pictured) with olive oil, shakshuka with eggplant
Snack: Practical Paleo's Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
Dinner: Practical Paleo's Smoky Chicken Wings with mango jalapeno sauce from The Performance Paleo Cookbook, pan-fried yucca, and steamed broccoli
"Dessert:" Fruit... not cake! :)
And after dinner, we had our last of the birthday celebrations. Since my birthday and two of my cousin's birthdays fall within 4 days of one another, we always celebrate together with our family. So yet another cake, and another cake that all 3 of us had to resist! My aunt brought fruit for us instead, and again, it was just as delicious to us-- although I know her cake was amazing.
I must admit, I am finally feeling like eating this way is my routine again. For a while, although I was eating really well, I was just letting too much slip-- the Whole30 does a great job at proving to you how easy it is to just let things slip. When you aren't doing all (or at least the vast majority) or your own food prep, are letting certain ingredients by that don't seem so "bad", swearing to yourself that the little bit of cream in your coffee/that one yogurt each day/the few pieces of cheese you have per day aren't really bothering you, it opens the flood gates to allowing foods and ingredients into your body that your body actually doesn't like. You feel like crap and you don't know what food is doing it. And all these little slips add up- sure a grain and dairy-free fruit bar isn't an unhealthy choice, but when you are having 1 every day, and snacking on them between meals when your body isn't even hungry, you actually are doing more harm than good. Those couple of beers on Friday and Saturday night don't seem to be affecting you, until you realize how much better you feel on the weekends without the empty calories, gluten, and alcohol. Sure, rice is gluten-free, let me load up my plate (with loads of refined carbs and no nutrients at all). You get the point!
The Whole30 also really makes you appreciate good, real, nutritious food. I am enjoying every single thing I eat, am feeling satisfied and energized, and never getting that "I'm starving, give me food or I will die" feeling. And I have definitely reached the point where I don't crave anything! Sure, when there's cookies and cake and bread all around me, I don't feel invincible, but I am realizing that when I do want something non-Whole30, it's 100% because it's "forbidden." And it passes... much quickly than ever. I am feeling more energetic, less achy (did I mention that my ever-cracking knees haven't once cracked or popped since I started the Whole30-- despite doing hundreds of squats the past week?), and more vibrant than I have in a while. My clothes are fitting better, I feel stronger, I'm sleeping deeply through the night, my skin is clear, my hair is shiny, and my nails are strong and growing at a rapid pace!
I am really considering taking a one or two day "break" after Day 30 (I really could just go for a "paleo" muffin or pancake at this point!) and continuing for another 15 or even 30 days-- but let's not rush things! I am taking everything day by day and truly enjoying the experience along the way!
Kim Jordan, NTP - Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, health educator, CrossFitter, nature lover, student of life, once-aspiring writer. Owner of Root and Branch Nutrition.